Levi Meyers (not of the Jewish faith) opened his eyes and found himself in a movie theater. It was old but comfortable, well maintained and clean, and hard for Levi to estimate how old the place was. If he had to guess though, he would assume it was about 50 years old. At least. It could be older, it certainly felt like it. You know the feeling you got when you entered someplace old, reverent and whispers of memories settled on your skin, too old for your young mind to translate. Even the air seemed different. The air in this place didn’t just seem old. It seemed timeless, in and out of time itself.
On either of his arm chair was his favorite type of popcorn--salted, buttered, and cheesy--and favorite type of coke--vanilla--but neither was something he ate or drank often. Or at all really. Levi never really saw the point when he was so busy he rarely got to see a movie in an actual theatre, or when he could make something healthier and more filling at home. He shifted in his chair, looking around the theater. The chair creaked under his movement--he winced with each sound--the theatre wasn’t silent but it was quiet enough that each sound echoed in his head. There was about 30 or 40 people, each one familiar in a way that made his head spin. They all looked vaguely like each other, some had dark hair. Some had light hair. Some had smooth skin. And others had skin like an elephant, tough and leathery. Most were whispering, occasionally throwing a glance his way through evaluating eyes, the whispering around the theatre suddenly increasing in volume. Levi had a feeling they were talking about him.
There was absolutely no doubt in his mind that he was dead. Levi blinked and looked at the pamphlet in his hand. Where had that come from? The pamphlet vaguely shimmered in the dark, making it easy for his eyes to read it in the dark theater. In big blocky letters the title flap read:
SO YOU’RE DEAD. NOW WHAT?
Levi read the pamphlet, his face neutral as he did, hiding the storm of thoughts. Suddenly a light shiver ran up his arms, into his brain, leaving him light headed. Than the voice in his head started talking.
I bet you’re really confused right now. Well don’t be! Your Afterlife Theater pamphlet is here to help you! First, let’s get one through straight.
You’re dead! Don’t try to deny it. Don’t try to fight it. We both it’s true. You know it’s true. I know it’s true. There’s no point in trying to deny it.
The voice was really perky...and off. The voice sounded like he did on a recording but he was pretty sure he’s never been that perky in his life.
So you’re dead.
Contrary to what many think dying is not the end, it is just another book in the series that is your existence. Look around you. Are you looking? Good, see those people? Those are you previous incarnations! Yep, you read me right. Reincarnation is real. Mind blowing I know. I’ll give you a minute.
Okay, minute over.
So you’re dead and I’m sure you have a lot of questions. The first likely being, are you in heaven or hell? Well...we’re not sure yet. On the large screen in front of you, we’re gonna be playing your life. From birth to death and than you and your reincarnations are going to decide for you! After all, who’s tougher on you than you? Or past reincarnations of yourself? Same thing really.
From there the voice-pamphlet-thing got a little bit more into detail about the afterlife. After the sorting you would be free to roam the afterlife, encountering those who knew you and were now dead. And that’s for those who were neither extraordinary in life but weren’t completely evil either. Than it talked about how everyone saw you different. Most see you as the age they best remember think of you, a sibling might see you as the snot nosed 12 year old brat, that broke their toy truck and blamed it on the dog. An ex might see you as a the ethereal 18 year old that broke their heart that eventful summer night. You, yourself, see you in your prime. Unless you died young, than your form was stuck that way.
Levi had died when he was 35.
And then there are those died quite suddenly and violently…
The voice--his voice he was almost sure--trailed off a bit, suddenly much more somber and piquing Levi’s interest.
But I’m sure it won’t come to that.
Maybe it was just his imagination but he could’ve sworn the pamphlet gave a nervous little shudder in his hands.
He looked up from the pamphlet as the lights went down and the projector suddenly flickered to life. His life played before his eyes, literally.
Levi had never thought he would see his birth, his mom wasn’t particularly sentimental when it came to him and if his dad had recorded it well...than the knowledge had died with him. It was about as gross as he could imagine, lots of screaming and crying and death threats--ones that made him cringe and shrink in his chair instinctively---and when it was finally over. Levi was a little struck at how small he was, how--gentle his mom had been with him. He couldn’t remember the last time his mom had been that gentle with him.
When Levi saw his dad for the first time after the doctor passed him over, Levi almost started crying. It had been 25 years since his dad’s death and he still wasn’t over it. At least the ones responsible for his death was in jail.
As his life played before his eyes--fast forwarding over bits that didn’t matter and playing real time on bits that did, even if he didn’t know they were important (like the time he had decided to take another way to school). He sunk into his chair, shifting uncomfortably the first time he saw the hand heading his way on the screen. The theatre seemed to still suddenly even as his life kept playing across their eyes.
Levi wouldn’t consider himself a bad person, he’s never murdered anyone, was never cruel for no reason, and he barely even drank past tipsy.
He liked to think he was responsible. Owning and managing a restaurant wasn’t easy but he always made sure to make time for his girlfriend of 7 years. He was understanding to his employees. Any left over food he always made sure to donate to the soup kitchen, when one of his employees had gotten pregnant he had pre-made several weeks worth of meals for her so she wouldn’t have to worry.
Still, watching his mistakes and less than stellar moments made him squirm uncomfortably. Like the one and only time he had cheated on his girlfriend of two years - she was now happily married with two kids on the way - and had never told her. The times he had ignored kids being bullied because he was desperate to keep his head down as a middle schooler. The times he had ignored the very same signs abuse, he wished people had noticed for him.
Levi wasn’t an awful person.
But he was also the furthest thing from good.
He suddenly stood up straight, leaning forward in interest as the final few minutes of his arrived. Levi and his girlfriend had been out on a date, they were both a little tipsy but not drunk but neither had felt good about driving so they had taken a cab home. He had his arm wrapped around her waist and she was giggling into his chest at a bad joke he had told her. She fumbled into her purse for the keys to their house and he had leaned against the door to avoid slipping on the wet stone. It had rained earlier that night.
This is what Levi remembered from that night:
The rain that beat outside their window as he and his girlfriend enjoyed their dinner in a cozy little restaurant they had been wanting to go to for two months now. It was the first date they had for a while, their hectic work life and both of their workaholic personalities made it difficult to schedule a time for just themselves. But they had done it. By the time they were ready to go, the rain had lessened to a drizzle. It made the lampposts glow hazily in the night through the window of their cab. Like giant fireflies. It had been perfect right up until he had leaned up against the door.
The door to their house swung open easily, it wasn’t locked, wasn’t even closed.
This is what Levi didn’t remember:
Them walking through the door, hesitant and unsure. Both of them a combination of just tipsy enough to not think to call the cops and cocky enough to think they could handle it. He didn’t remember the man - tall, dressed in black, and obviously a thief - stop right in front of them. He didn’t remember all three of them freezing. He didn’t remember seeing the gun until it was too late. He didn’t remember the flash of the muzzle as the gun went off. He didn’t remember the loud pop of the gun. He didn’t remember the scream of horror slipping from his girlfriend’s mouth as his body jerked back. He didn’t remember falling to the ground. He didn’t remember the black that suddenly settled over him.
The movie ended, the entire theatre seemed to hold their collective breath. Or maybe it just seemed that way because Levi was holding his breath, blood roaring in his eyes and his sternum suddenly aching. The pamphlet in his hand shivered and he knew without an explanation that a decision had been reached.
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